This week, we look at MLW’s first ever champion and Japanese legend, Satoshi Kojima.
MLW Title: Satoshi Kojima defeated Jerry Lynn via pinfall to win the title (New York City, September 2002)
Joey Styles subtly but expertly made us aware of both competitors signatures manoeuvrers to watch out for as the referee presented the title belt to the crowd and checked each of the competitors before the opening bell. Kojima, who was taught the lariat by Stan Hansen, has the Koji-Cutter, the Koji-max submission and of course the lariat. While Jerry Lynn uses a tornado DDT to set up his cradle piledriver.
There was a slow but intense exchange of holds to open up with neither gaining an advantage. Lynn tried an early cross arm breaker to try and deactivate some of Kojima’s lariat power but they were both too near the ropes. Kojima took control and brought out some Flair chops in the corner, along with a trademark Wooo of his own. Lynn returned the favour but succumbed to Kojima’s power with a side slam moments later.
Kojima hit a series of elbow drops throughout the match as the title seemed to be slipping away from the former ECW champion Lynn. Kojima pretended he couldn’t understand the referee who was instructing him to get Lynn out the corner and out of the ropes.
But the tide turned shortly after when Kojima missed an elbow drop from the middle rope and Lynn fired up with right hands, chops and a trifecta of lariats, but it was a reverse DDT that finally took him off his feet. Kojima came back with a pair of running lariats in the corner followed by a big elbow drop from the top rope that got a two count.
Kojima removed his elbow pad but Lynn ducked a lariat to hit a German suplex for a two count of his own. Lynn hit his tornado DDT moments later but Kojima again kicked out at two. Styles set us up for the cradle piledriver but instead, Lynn went for a suplex that Kojima reversed but Lynn slipped out the back of but ended up taking a sit down spinebuster seconds later.
Lynn finally went for his piledriver but Kojima reversed with a backdrop. Kojima then hit a Michinoku Driver for a two count but he didn’t stop there, he got up and signalled for the lariat and connected with it, knocking Lynn down and out of the contest. He covered him for the three count to become the first-ever MLW world heavyweight champion.
We saw clips from Kojima’s defences in Japan in AJPW and Zero-1 before we jumped into our next match mid-way as Kojima was defending the title against Vampiro.
MLW Title: Champion Satoshi Kojima defeated Vampiro via pinfall to retain the title (Ft Lauderdale, Florida, December 2002)
The match was already underway as we caught up with the action on the outside of the ring. Kojima was whipped into the guard rail and knocked a poor fan in the front row off his seat. Kojima suplexed Vamp on the concrete floor and chopped him over the barrier into the crowd. They brawled to the stage where Vampiro climbed a camera rig and hit a flying clothesline.
We cut back to some in-ring action where Vampiro missed a corkscrew senton and had his hurricanrana attempt reversed into a sit-down powerbomb. Kojima then hit a neck breaker for a two count and took Vamp down with a dragon screw leg whip.
Kojima then targeted the knee with a pair of dropkicks and another dragon screw before locking in an STF. Vampiro dragged himself to the ropes but Kojima his an ace crusher and a big lariato to pick up the win and the successful title defence.
MLW Title: Champion Satoshi Kojima defeated Johnny Smith via pinfall to retain the title (Tokyo, Japan, March 2003 – AJPW and MLW collaboration event)
Joey Styles clued us into Johnny Smith being a cousin of the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid. An English voiceover introduced the title fight before the Japanese ring announcer introduced both competitors who got the traditional streamers from the audience and polite receptions. Those paying close attention would have noticed Kojima’s introduction is the same audio used in MLW’s opening video sequence.
We had an early commercial break in the match so we came back with Kojima in control of Smith. Kojima came off the top rope with an elbow drop but Smith kicked out. A neck breaker also got a two count as Smith was somehow hanging in there. Smith ducked a lariat and hit Kojima with one of his own out of nowhere for a brief hope spot but moments later Kojima hit the Koji-cutter but again Smith somehow kicked out.
Kojima hit a Michoniku driver but Smith no-sold it and popped up, roaring himself into hitting a death valley driver but he couldn’t make an immediate cover due to the damage he had taken. Smith then hit a sit-out powerbomb and a German suplex but couldn’t keep Kojima’s shoulder down. Smith looked for another German but Kojima fought out and hit a running lariat.
Styles told us it was anyone’s to win and he was right. Smith hit a reverse DDT that Kojima just kicked out of and no more, and on the second attempt Kojima reversed with a northern lights release suplex. Smith blocked another lariat with a backslide for another close two count. Kojima then blocked a lariat this time and connected with his own to finally keep Smith down for the three count and leave as STILL the MLW world heavyweight champion, but only just.
We closed this week’s episode with the montage of current-day stars keeping busy: Zenshi was doing some backflips in his garden and climbing a tree upside down, Gino Medina was not worrying about CONTRA- he was worrying about the manacitas, the Von Erichs were wrestling each other on a beach, Mance Warner was about to start on his triple cage idea- but then he started drinking and Tom Lawlor shaved his hair off and was ready to protect himself.
Hammerstone played the Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar and advertised his shirts on MLW.com/shop, Alicia Atout interviewed Col. Robert Parker who was STILL flirting with Aria Blake, Richard Holliday shaved his moustache off to keep the Caribbean women off him.
Jordan Oliver had Injustice’s newest member’s identity in a brown envelope and Myron Reed promised his identity would be revealed later tonight- saying it was an injustice he wasn’t signed two years ago, and El Hijo de LA Park and LA Park Jr had fighting words for CONTRA after they attacked their dad LA Park last week.
Saieve al Sabah was then introduced as the newest member of Injustice as he told us he would weaponise our mind, bodies and souls because the revolution has arrived.